Miami Archdiocese Clears Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Jay Weaver
Miami Herald
April 29, 2009

A Catholic priest accused of molesting a teenage boy at a Kendall church has been cleared by the Archdiocese of Miami and will be reassigned to another parish.

The Rev. Rolando Castillo, who voluntarily stepped down as pastor of St. Timothy's in 2007 when he was accused of misconduct in a lawsuit, asked to be reassigned.

''It was his decision not to return as pastor,'' said archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta. She said the Catholic Church has not decided on his new parish assignment.

Castillo, who became an ordained priest in 1994, won't be facing criminal charges either, according to the Miami-Dade state attorney's office. Spokesman Ed Griffith said there wasn't sufficient evidence to pursue charges against the 41-year-old priest.

Griffith cited the nature of the allegation -- fondling in the office of St. Timothy's -- and the fact that the accuser didn't want to cooperate by giving a statement. His age was also a factor, he said.

At the time of the alleged incident, the accuser may have been 18, not 17, as noted in the negligence lawsuit against the archdiocese. That means he may not have been a minor when the alleged sex abuse by the priest occurred in 2001.

Castillo also took a polygraph test indicating no deception on his part when asked about the allegation, according to the priest's lawyer and the archdiocese.

As for the lawsuit, filed in October 2007, it has been resolved. But it's unclear whether the archdiocese settled the negligence case by paying the accuser, as the institution has done in dozens of other claims in recent years.

''The case has been mutually resolved and neither side will have any comment on this matter,'' said the alleged victim's attorney, Stuart Mermelstein.

News of the archdiocese's resolution of Castillo's case by a lay committee was announced at St. Timothy's on Sunday.

Castillo was born in Nicaragua, moved to South Florida as a youth and graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High. After his ordination as a priest, he worked at St. Patrick's in Miami Beach, Immaculate Conception in Hialeah and St. Hugh's in Coconut Grove.

Castillo joined St. Timothy's in 2001 as an associate pastor and administrator. Three years later, he became pastor of the church, 5400 SW 102nd Ave.

In October 2007, he took an administrative leave as a result of the lawsuit. The vacant post will be filled by the Rev. Jordi Rivero, the pastor at St. Raymond's.



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